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Heat fightin' men
The new Radiators From Space album features re-workings of tracks by Dublin-based beat groups from the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Jackie Hayden caught up founder members Steve Rapid and Pete Holidai in Dublin, and Philip Chevron, touring Australia with The Pogues, to explore the thinking behind what is a Remarkable Record.
Jackie Hayden, 18 May 2012
Sound City Beat, sees the return to action of The Radiators From Space. On what is just their fourth album in 34 years – their debut TV Tube Heart was released in 1977 – they have not only recreated an overlooked era in Irish rock, they’ve also made the music feel vibrant and relevant once again. And while the album features covers of Horslips, Taste, Thin Lizzy and Them gems, it also turns a spotlight on forgotten acts who deserved better than the scant attention they received at
“One of the first things we noticed when we started digging for real was the strength of the songwriting,” Philip Chevron says. “Rory Gallagher’s ‘It’s Happened Before, It’ll Happen Again’ was almost buried beneath the lengthy sax and guitar improvs on the second Taste album. That was how Rory worked. Sometimes it made his songwriting seem secondary, which of course it wasn’t. The two Brush Shiels songs, ‘New Places, Old Faces’ and ‘Head For The Sun’, are unrefined and unfinished, something we dared presume to repair.
“Part of the problem with almost all these bands was a lack of studio time,” he adds. “A friend who loves the album pointed out that overall, the lyrics are comparatively undistinguished. I’m not sure I agree wholeheartedly with that. Peter Adler’s ‘I’m Gonna Turn My Life Around’, though not an exceptional lyric per se, is clearly written by a man who understood the craft of
The Radiator’s resident punk Steve Rapid says the idea to record a bunch of songs from Dublin’s embryonic rock era flowed from his and Chevron’s interest in records from the period.
“I’ve been particularly keen on that era,” he confesses. “I’d actually seen some of those bands live. The album sleeve has a poster of a 1968 gig at Liberty Hall called Beat Blast. It had bands like Skid Row, Creatures, Gentry and so on. I was actually at that gig. I’ve always been interested in ‘60s bands who played the same kind of high-energy stuff that we wanted to play when we started The Radiators.” Chevron reckons the years 1964 to 1971 were critical to Irish musical culture. “The most interesting music was occurring just below the radar. Although the pop hits, the music of the showbands and the ballad groups are, correctly, I think, identified as the soundtrack to a time of enormous political, social and infrastructural change across the land, most of the music of long-term influence and lasting merit was actually occurring elsewhere. Apart from the beat groups, only the decade’s Gael Linn singles and EPs were of true lasting value and influence.”